Bokeh of Soviet lenses

(already posted some time ago as a thread on RangefinderForum.com)

I tend to judge lenses not only by sharpness or contrast, but also by 'bokeh' (the rendering of out-of-focus areas). And I just wanted to do a comparisson of my lenses in this regard...

I did this test in June 2006, even before I bought my Bessa R. All shots in this comparisson were taken with my Zorki 4 camera with the Helios finder used to frame the 85 and 35 lenses (since the viewfinder of Zorki 4 only shows the view of a 50 lens). The lenses compared are Jupiter-8 (50/2), Industar-61 (50/2.8), Jupiter-9 (85/2) and Jupiter-12 (35/2.8). All the lenses are Soviet-made, but based on pre-war Zeiss designs. They are not copies, but the plans for those lenses were taken after the second world war as war reparations.

Thanks to Lubka for being a patient model... focussing with Zorki 4 sometimes takes a looong time ;)

Here are the results: (click image for larger version)

Jupiter-12 (35mm f/2.8)

@ f/2.8

@ f/5.6

This lens is a Soviet 'Zeiss Biogon'. The lens is symmetric, and its rear element is very close to film.
The bokeh wide open at f/2.8 is nice and smooth and the image is quite soft in the corners with some vigneting. At f/5.6 the depth-of-field is so deep that there is almost no bokeh... but sharpness had much improved.

Jupiter-8 (50mm f/2)

@ f/2

@ f/2.8

@ f/4

@ f/5.6

Jupiter-8 is a Soviet 'Zeiss Sonnar'. This lens is my favourite. It's quite soft wide open, with very pleasing creamy bokeh, but surprisingly tack-sharp when stopped down. The contrast is lower wide open, but stopping down to f/2.5 helps a lot. The blackening of edges of lens elements isn't exactly the strongest point of Soviet lenses and stopping down to f/2.5 eliminates reflections from these surfaces. Also notice that wide open at f/2 out-of-focus highlights are rendered with stronger edges, but after stopping the aperture down to f/2.8 they are much smoother without the stronger edges... In my opinion f/2.5 or f/2.8 is the best f-stop for portraits with this lens.

Industar-61 (50mm f/2.8)

@ f/2.8

@ f/4

@ f/5.6

Industar-61 (just like the previous version called Industar-26) is a Soviet 'Zeiss Tessar'. It's sharp already wide open, with nice bokeh. The photo taken at f/2.8 shows how sharp it really is. It is said to be one of the sharpest Soviet lenses in LTM mount.

Jupiter-9 (85mm f/2)


@ f/2

@ f/4

The test photos show why short-tele lenses are considered best for portraits. The out-of-focus areas are rendered very smooth and creamy - an example of perfect bokeh. As the previous lenses, also Jupiter-9 is a Soviet 'Zeiss Sonnar'. It is known to be soft wide open, but very sharp when stopped down. My test photos proved this - soft at f/2, but tack-sharp at f/4. Beautiful...

Discovering the beauty of classic B&W film

After years of using mostly color negative film (Fuji, Konica, Kodak) I decided I needed a change. And I wanted to do my own enlargements. So true classic B&W film was the way to go. I loaded my Bessa with Fomapan 400 and went out...

Althought it took me about 2 weeks to get throught the 38 or so frames, it was worth the wait. I then had it developed by a local guy who does developing of classic B&W (I'm not ready to do the developing myself yet - too frightened I might mess it up).

And here are some pics from that film...

taken with Bessa R + Skopar 35/2.5

A wagabond staring at the wall... the wall behind is a memorial of a synagogue that used to stand there. It was demolished during the communist era to make place for a bridge across the Danube. In fact a large part of the historic centre was demolished.

taken with Bessa R + Skopar 35/2.5

taken with Bessa R + Skopar 35/2.5

taken with Bessa R + Skopar 35/2.5

taken with Bessa R + Skopar 35/2.5

taken with Bessa R + Skopar 35/2.5

taken with Bessa R + Skopar 35/2.5

taken with Bessa R + Skopar 35/2.5

I used 2 lenses for this roll: Voigtlander Skopar 35mm f/2.5 "Classic" and a Jupiter-8 50mm f/2, but as you can see - most of the good "street shots" were taken with the Skopar. The following photo is a portrait of my grandfather taken with Jupiter-8 50mm f/2.

taken with Bessa R + Jupiter-8 50/2 @ f/2.5

What you can see here are just scans from the negs. I still have to find some time to lock in the darkroom and make some prints... but I already can't wait to do it...

My favorite model :)

This is her. I've got many pictures of her, and I still enjoy taking more photos. I'd like to capture her every expression... every smile... and wink ;) This is Lubka.

This was taken on a walk along the Danube. She looks like a real fashion model :)

taken with Canonet QL17 GIII

This was taken on a trip to a water mill near Jelka (a village). The water is so shallow there, that in the middle of the river we could easily sit on some rocks that stick above the water.

taken with Bessa R and Jupiter-8 50/2 lens

I took this in Bratislava downtown, while sitting on a terrace outside a café. There was hardly enough light for a photo, but it turned out nice.

taken with Bessa R and Jupiter-8 50/2 lens, exposure 1/15 @ f/2

And one more - thoughtful...


...and smiling :)

both taken with OM-2000 camera and Zuiko 85/2 lens @ f/2 or f/2.8